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Functional brain imaging has been largely reserved for adults. However, in recent years there have been increasing attempts to use functional brain imaging to inform our understanding of child development. These have taken three main forms: (1) Children with known or suspected neurological disorders may undergo brain imaging for medical diagnostic purposes and/or for the purpose of research into the nature of the disorders. (2) There have been a few studies where children, usually over the age of 8, have undergone functional brain imaging. (3) Results from brain imaging studies of adults have influenced theories about children's development. This chapter discusses the impact of brain imaging studies on our understanding of working memory; reading; and arithmetic. The different forms of brain imaging converge in demonstrating that different brain regions show differential activation for different domains and for different components within the domains: e.g. different reading strategies and different components of arithmetic. They show important similarities between children and adults, though it must be remembered that very few studies have involved young children. They also indicate that experience influences brain function, as well as the other way around.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol Paris

Publication Date





333 - 341


Brain, Child, Child Development, Cognition, Developmental Disabilities, Diagnostic Imaging, Dyslexia, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mental Processes